The start of my OE was fairly typical. I had what I (foolishly) thought was a good amount of savings, a minimum-wage job, and expenses that were higher than I’d anticipated. As my bank balance rapidly went down, I became an expert at only buying the essentials, making what I did buy go further, and arranging my social life around whatever free entertainment was on offer.
Becoming a Thrift Queen gave me a sense of control and taught me skills and attitudes that I still use today. But I found there was a hard limit to what can be saved on the essentials without compromising health and safety. No matter how much effort I put into spending less, I could never relax and think that I had done enough.
What really made the difference to my OE lifestyle was earning more. Going food shopping on my first bigger payday, and selecting a pint of ice cream (Haagen-Dazs!) for the first time in months stands out in my memory as the moment I could really feel the financial pressure coming off.
If inflation is starting to bite into your lifestyle, I absolutely recommend finding your own inner Thrift Queen. But to really make a difference, you need to bring more money in.
Easy to say, harder to do. Here’s a collection of resources that could help:
If you already have a job, now is a good time to ask for a raise given the shortage of skilled labour. Steps for how to do this, including scripts are here: https://www.randstad.co.nz/career-advice/salary/the-dos-and-donts-of-asking-for-a-pay-rise-in-8-easy-steps/
If your employer denies your increase, or if you’re not currently in paid work, try: https://www.seek.co.nz/
Not skilled enough for the higher-paid jobs? The Careers website has details on courses ranging from free micro-credential courses to post-graduate degrees: https://www.careers.govt.nz/courses/
If none of the above are practical for the way your life is at the moment, a side gig may be worth investigating.
You may have skills or interests that fit naturally with the gig economy, like writing, or making items to sell at a local weekend market. You might own things that you don’t use anymore, and could sell, or have a room you could let out – more ideas and details are here:https://www.moneyhub.co.nz/best-side-hustles.html
Tips to make the most of earning more:
- Even if you increase your income beyond what you thought was possible, stay connected to how much you’re spending. Spending more to compensate for working more is really common. A combination of “I can afford it now” + “I deserve it” can quickly lead to being worse off.
- If you’re going to go the side-gig route, keep a note of all side-gig-related costs and income. The difference will tell you if you have a business, a hobby, or if you buy more product for personal use than you sell (common with MLMs).
- When your income does increase, take a moment to notice what’s happened.. Not having enough money brings terrible stress; sadly, having enough money does not bring anywhere near an equivalent level of joy. Make sure that your own Haagen-Dazs moment is one you’ll always remember.